So, I don’t feel entirely qualified yet to write on this topic, in fact the more I read and study it, and process it, the more there is to learn. But it ties in with what I have been learning and investigating for many years now, formally and informally.
Still, this is important. It probably affects every person alive who has ever been a child.
Starting with the obvious:
Your self-image hinges on self-talk, and your self-talk consists of words. What do you tell yourself when you’re talking to yourself? How can some people strike out and do things others consider scary? It’s all in what they tell themselves about themselves.
And that gets laid down, as you know, early in life. In childhood; in young adulthood.
Voices in your head.
The voice you hear in your head, the one that tells you “you’re fat” when you look in the mirror? It’s your own voice. But it wasn’t always. Long ago, possibly before you can even remember, an adult told you these things.
An adult you trusted. A parent perhaps; or a beloved aunt, uncle, grandparent or teacher. As a child you firmly believed that adults are always right, they are “grown up”, they know everything. You may have known that they don’t always agree, but when speaking to you, they were firm, sure of what they were saying… so you took it and made it your own.
And now it has become yourself rehashing to yourself what you were told, and many things you were not told, that you found all by yourself in the meantime. And because you yourself are saying it, it must be true, right?
It doesn’t matter.
Here’s the key. It doesn’t matter who told you the vile things you believe of yourself. It really doesn’t matter. Because if it was someone you loved, you love them all the same. Maybe it was many adults. Maybe it was every adult you ever interacted with. It doesn’t matter; because of two things.
Firstly, though they were blunt, at the time these words may have been valid criticisms you needed to hear. “We need to look into your diet, Lindsey, you’re getting a little fat.” They were never meant to be permanent!
Or they may have been called out in frustration: “You forgot your keys? Are you stupid?” Oh my hat! There’s that S-word! Everyone was bandying it around.
Secondly: It is your own responsibility if you went and made them your own!
Remember we used to say, “wear the shoe if it fits?” (Whenever someone brought up that argument, my own response was, “ha! That’s your shoe! I’m not wearing your stinky old shoes!” But unfortunately, whenever it wasn’t said, I did just like everyone else and took every crit and insult personally and wore it. Hot tip: Don’t do that. It serves nobody.)
Are you still walking around in someone else’s discarded shoes?
These “power words” that stick to you like gum on a shoe – how to get rid of them from your head?
There are any number of self-help books on “how to boost your self-image” or whatever. All the ones I’ve read have very sweet and functional ideas. But the most important step is this:
“That’s not my issue. That’s not my ‘is-shoe’. That’s not my fear!”
Here’s an example. While working through Suze Orman’s “The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom” (fantastic book by the way), one of the exercises she puts one through is to pinpoint a financial fear. Really get to the bottom of what fear drives one’s financial behaviour. And the one I pinpointed was this:
“What if I can’t give my children enough? What if I can’t meet their basic needs, feed them, clothe them, provide them with shelter, education and health care?”
I looked at it, over, and over, and over, scratching my head. For years, for over two decades, I’ve been feeding and clothing my children, providing them with shelter, education and health care and so much more! What sense does this fear make, at all?
And I drilled deeper, and found to my bass surprise (you may imagine a fish blowing bubbles) that it was not my fear!
It didn’t sound like my voice! Oh, I heard many voices… many caring, concerned, worried voices, friends, bosses, colleagues, family, all dating back to pivotal times in my life when I made big changes… had a baby… changed jobs… left a job in favour of joining my husband in the music studio… but, not my own or my husbands voices in there!
So the key fear on which many of my financial decisions were made was not even my own!
Fun story, but what’s the conclusion?
Words have power. A criticism is like a spell someone spoke over you. There are three things you need to do if you want to be free of these words that limit you.
Step 1: Confront your “voice in your head”.
Examine exactly what it says; analyze the words, find their origin, grab them like a weed and uproot them from your mind. Get to the bottom of the chatter and find the truth. Fat? Forgetful? Poor? Useless? That’s relative! How long is a piece of string? Anyway, that’s not who you are, that’s just something you’re maybe choosing to do at the moment, obeying someone else’s spell of power words…
Step 2: Stop obeying!
Just because someone else thought you’re going to be a loser if you ever quit that job, doesn’t mean you have to obey them! Write your own definition of who you really are and want to be (and choose to be). Write it down and say it out loud, because the written word has power and so does the spoken word.
Step 3: Ward.
Whenever anyone makes a critical remark, no matter how veiled, reject it. “They don’t know me.” “That’s simply not true.” “This is not my reality. They have their own limited views.” Or you could simply use the word of power that blocks others: “Ward!”
Don’t allow any further weeds into your mind.
So, that’s my sage ufundi wisdom for this Friday morning… not because it’s Friday but because I’m just having my head rearranged by words of power that I’m reading, and wanted to share their effect with you. 😀